@Husker2 When I was in school they called putting my hands in my
pockets a "gang affiliation sign" -- the irony was that I was the loner
in the entire school; I wasn't affiliated with any gang, I didn't even
have any friends to associate with at all. But, that didn't stop the
school from telling me I was a gang member because I put my hands in my pockets
to keep warm.If you want to address gangs, telling students not to
wear something is not an effective solution. Look to the science about why
children join gangs, and address the root causes.Further, they
didn't have security cameras when I was in school either; yet they
complained when I had my hood on. Obviously wasn't because my face was
hard to see on camera.MOST dress codes really do not serve any
purpose except to ensure children conform like little automatons. Again, I
reference the Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall... watch the music video
of it; it is fighting against this same type of thing (though from a different
era); of teachers trying to force students into a mold; and not allowing
@NeifySometimes there are practical reasons why schools have certain
dress codes. For example, they forbid hats and hoods from being worn indoors
because a) hats are often used to display gang affiliation and b) hats and hoods
can make it difficult to see a persons face on security cameras. These
aren’t just archaic rules from the ‘50s, they enhance school
Relax everybody! A teachable moment and a misunderstanding. As a former
Catholic and never member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I
do find it ironic that some people are upset that the teacher was not adequately
familiar with the Catholic tradition of the ash cross on the forehead. I bet a
lot of those people thought that a broadway musical mocking the CJCLDS religion
was just perfectly fine.
@ECR - Burke, VADon't forget Boxing Day. I'm not saying
we need to know every little detail, but those things have been around for quite
some time now. Might I suggest Google? Just a suggestion.
screenname said:"A member of the LDS Church in Utah (not that we
know the religion of this teacher, but who cares, if it can be used to bash the
religion?) is more likely to know more about other religions than most anyone
else in the US."True, LDS people tested better than most, but
not better than atheists. Atheists tested the best when it comes to knowledge of
1. First off when I saw the headline on a mute TV, I did NOT think
"Utah."2. Ash Wednesday is Not a "Holy Day of
Obligation" Catholics are not "required" to go to Mass.3. Many Catholics go to evening Mass(on Ash Wednesday) after work/school.4. "...In many countries it is common to just have the ashes
sprinkled on your head..."(said by THEREALND - Mishawaka, IN)5.
I find that the Ash Wednesday cross is "weak" and ashes fall off in 3 to
6 hours.6. Many Catholics give something up for lent(many kids give
up candy -- but not all).
With all the political attention, it is only a mater of time before a kid shows
up in school with a colander on his head, claiming to be a Pastafarian.And our legislature will have to create a new law to close the loophole.No news here. A federal court in Nebraska has already wasted time on the
@screenname - "Billy, take off the hat in class please." ... "rather
than continue to disrupt class."I agree with the likelihood of
such a scenario. But, I have to ask. Which is more disruption to the class? A
boy wearing a hat? Or, the teacher arguing with the boy to take the hat off?By far the greater disruption is the teacher, not the student!Research shows that best practices for teachers including behavior management
is in ignoring poor behavior, and rewarding good behavior. If you really want
Billy to take the hat off; praise a student who doesn't have a hat on.
That is always far more effective than asking the student to take the hat off,
which simply disrupts the learning environment.Further, I would put
forth that Billy can learn just as easily with his hat on, as off. So, there is
no need to change the behavior at all. Simply let Billy wear the hat. If other
students are bothered by it; redirect other students to their own learning
(again praising good behavior, even that of Billy).(For me it was my
coat, to stay warm even sometimes with the hood up... I could still hear the
teacher just fine, and I could focus on learning when I wasn't shivering.)
@at long last. . . "For those apologists who wonder why the big
kerfluffle, you might ask yourself why the national media are talking and
writing about this. The answer is because, nationally, people cannot understand
the evident naivete of Utahns and their 'other than normal' world view
on things that the rest of the country view as normal everyday
knowledge."So what you are saying is that it was national news
merely because it reinforced stereotypes regarding Utah - Does that mean it is
OK to knee-jerk accept stereotypes regarding Missouri, California, etc? Or is
there some expectation to move beyond that?
I have taught public high school for 25 years in the Salt Lake and Davis
counties. I lived on the west side of Salt Lake with many Catholic friends and
colleagues. How many times in my life have I seen an Ash Wednesday cross?
Twice. And once was while living a short time in another state. How many times
have I seen a Catholic student on Ash Wednesday with an ash cross at school?
Never. I teach history and I am passionate about world religions. I would not
have missed it. So I am not surprised that a Utah native is unfamiliar with
I raised my kids in Illinois. It was normal to see the Mormons excoriated by US
History teachers. About half the time the kids were able to turn it into a
teaching moment. No one ever lit up Twitter over it.And that's
where we are here. Twenty years ago no one would have even known about this
case. The parents would have complained to the school or the board, and they
would have dealt with it.It would be interesting to track down the
path of this case from the beginning to national media.Now...what do
you suppose would have happened had the teacher gone to the boy's priest to
request a meeting with him, the boy and his family? No cameras. No
microphones.They could sit in his church, talk and pray together.Maybe the class does a filed trip to tour the church and talk about the
Lenten season, the dates and what they mean.Instead, we get a press
conference in the capitol during the legislative session.Opportunity
lost. No winners.
And we again see that religion brings us all together by using one of
'gods' totally reasonable rules for getting to live forever with him
(or be sent to hell) depending if we are doing it all correctly.
I can remember seeing repentance ashes on the foreheads of my schoolmates in
Clearfield, Utah, another Davis County city, some 60 years ago. Have we
forgotten so much? Or are we being willfully ignorant?
I don't blame the teacher for her ignorance. No one person will ever know
and understand every single religious worship out there; that is impossible even
for those who study many religions.But, I do fault the system (the
teacher, her administrators, etc. etc.) for intolerance of individuality.School is a place for learning; not a place for conforming. So what if
a boy comes to school with some "dirt" in his face. Teach him anyway,
and ignore the dirt. There is no reason to have even made a fuss about it in
the first place (even if you didn't know it was a religious symbol).The bigger distraction to learning is when teachers themselves focus on
minutia of individuals (what they wear, how they walk, how they smell, etc.
etc.) instead of focusing on their mental development (education).I
repeat, school is a place for learning; not a place for conforming. In the
immortal words of Pink Floyd "Hey teachers, leave those kids alone!"
For those apologists who wonder why the big kerfluffle, you might ask yourself
why the national media are talking and writing about this. The answer is
because, nationally, people cannot understand the evident naivete of Utahns and
their 'other than normal' world view on things that the rest of the
country view as normal everyday knowledge.
Though the fourth-grade teacher said she did not know the ash was a religious
symbol. She didn't know?
I believe Jesus would say... let it go already
Utah has a problem by not understanding Christianity.
K - Mchenry, IL: "There are 300,000 Catholics in Utah."Lia:
"Utahns are socially sheltered and vastly uncultured. There is no arguing
this."ConradGurch - SLC, Utah: "'An honest mistake'? Not
hardly. Ash Wednesday is on every calendar on the planet."Growing up in Utah I never saw my Catholic friends or anyone else with ashes
on their forehead, and who cared what "Ash Wednesday" meant if you
didn't get a day off school? Serving a mission in Brazil (a VERY Catholic
nation) I never saw anyone with this mark. Having lived in Los Angeles for
nearly 2 decades (which is more religious than you might think) I've only
seen it a few times and only understood it when one of my employees explained it
to me (after I quietly told her she had something on her forehead). It's
easy to make harsh judgments and denigrate others online, but with so many
Utahns serving missions they're probably more cultured (in general) than
many of the commenters here, and certainly more tolerant.The
teachers I know have very busy jobs, and I can't imagine trying to wrangle
a bunch of 4th graders. Nobody needs to be fired and I'm embarrassed at the
role the DesNews had in blowing this out of proportion.
Moana Patterson = 100% disingenuous.she simply does not like
catholics.no one is that ignorant. no one.
ConradGurch said, "Ash Wednesday is on every calendar on the planet."So is Yom Kippur, but does everyone know all the practices of those who
observe this well known holy day?
It is somewhat humorous to read the apologists comments about this sorry
behavior by the teacher. My guess is that most of these are members of the
local religious majority and don't even try to understand others religious
perspectives and what their intolerance does to others.
I have to echo the comments of screenname and kim c. I, too, have lived in
predominantly Catholic areas and have even enjoyed "fish Friday" with
friends (and I don't care for fish). I've never seen the ash mark on
someone's forehead while living there, or anywhere else for that matter. I
would have had no clue it was Ash Wednesday save for the article in the
newspaper! Is this "insensitive"? I think not. It is life--a busy life.
I more often than not also miss St. Patrick's Day, almost missed
Valentine's Day, my wife's birthday, etc. Teachers are so busy with
large classes and a lot of rambunctious kids. She asked him to clean the dirt
off of his face, no big deal. She apologized, which was the right thing to do.
There needs to be a little more respect and understanding for teachers and the
pressures they are under in the classroom!
She doesn't need to fired, but Utah residents need to do a better job of
understanding other peoples' religion and respecting those religions. Utah
is becoming more and more diverse - get used to it. I learned about Ash
Wednesday from my Catholic friends. They're cool with my religion, and
I'm cool with theirs.
Sorry folks but i'm not buying your plea for ignorance here. "An
honest mistake"? Not hardly. Ash Wednesday is on every calendar
on the planet.
Either the boy or the teacher are lying. This story and the story I read a few
days ago are not lining up.
For those disputing the teacher's story, it probably went something like
this:"Billy, take off the hat in class please.""But Mrs. Patterson, it's against my religion to not wear this hat
today!""Sure it is, Billy. Take off the hat please."If the child continues to press that it's a religious symbol, and
the teacher is not aware of such a symbol, she'd be a fool to blindly
accept that answer. The logical thing to do would be to have the child take it
up with the principal or school district, rather than continue to disrupt class.
This is a non story. She apologized. Give me a break. What else should she do?
The story was brought to the media's attention by who? As a devout member
of the CJCLDS I can't count the number of times negative things have been
said to my face and behind my back, mostly in jest. Am I outraged? No. Do I
care? No. I have a life, a good one at that. Unfortunately, many others must
Thanks for the not so subtle jab, ECR, but it's misplaced. Members of your
so called "homogenized culture" consistently outperform every other
group in knowledge about other religions. A member of the LDS Church in Utah
(not that we know the religion of this teacher, but who cares, if it can be used
to bash the religion?) is more likely to know more about other religions than
most anyone else in the US.And if millions of Catholics really wear
ashes, then I'm a statistical miracle, as I've lived outside Utah for
the past 8 years or so and have never seen anyone wearing ashes on their
So blown out of proportion that it is beyond ridiculous. No one is allowed
mistakes. Everything is so agregious and people get so offended over
everything. Good grief. Let’s move on.
I have lived in UT, FL, TN, ID, TX, ND, IL, and AR. I do not celebrate Ash
Wednesday. I only realize it’s Ash Wednesday when I happen to notice it in
my calendar, happen to see something about it on social media, or happen to see
someone who went to mass that day and realize what it is. It’s not
necessarily being ignorant as much as unaware. We don’t know what was
going on with the teacher. She probably just glanced at this kid, didn’t
see anything more than a “smudge” on his forehead and thought to
grab a wipe, hand it to the kid asking him to wipe it off. It’s not like
the teacher sat down with this kid and had a discussion about it. Maybe the kid
mumbled something, maybe she wasn’t understanding what he was saying
because it wasn’t on her radar. As someone who lives outside of Utah, I
laugh that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is even mentioned
because this same incident could have happened in any of the states I have lived
in. It’s Davis County, not Utah county. If the teacher had Ash Wednesday
on her radar, she would have seen the mark in a different light. I really think
the teacher saw it as dirt. As soon as she realized what happened, she
A teacher's day is so crowded with all the demands being put on them, most
of it regulatory. Small wonder that not much thought was put into her request
that the student clean up or that his response didn't register as
problematic. Teacher overload is so real that time to focus on student needs
and communication is pushed aside.
Utahns are socially sheltered and vastly uncultured.There is no arguing
@ Third try, The Todd Weiler angle is, indeed, fascinating.
"oh please..St. G"Then you're not paying attention.There are tens of millions more Catholics than LDS-
If the ignorance displayed by the teacher involved is not a reason for firing
her, I wonder what would be. . . ? It isn't as if the Roman Catholic
church is some sideline, somewhat Christian cult. Ash Wednesday observance by
placing an ash cross on one's forehead is certain commonplace in locations
as remote as rural and very Protestant northern Missouri and has been for my
lifetime of 80 years. If you watch television, you likely saw some talking
heads with ash crosses on their foreheads, if you were looking.It is
apparent the teacher did not listen to the student's explanation. As
egregious as the forced removal of the religious symbol is, it is perhaps worse
that she didn't listen to the student's explanation. Firing is
She 'had no idea" it was had religious significance?Even after
the boy explained???Utahns need to get with the real world program.
I also have lived out of state many years ( yes, I'm old ) including
foreign countries in areas heavily Catholic and have not heard of this practice.
On the other hand, it is well-known that those of The Hindu faith have
distinctive marks on their forehead. And other cultures may do so as well. What
about gang markings ? We may need some research into this situation and some
serious thinking. One thing is certain : school is getting a lot more
I'm glad everyone is talking about this and helping to educate and
understand the issue. The teacher seems to be genuinely asking for forgiveness
and acknowledging her ignorance of the subject in question. That's the
first step in making things better. And I believe that much, although certainly
not all, of the prejudice people have towards others is a matter of ignorance
rather than hatred. When someone is raised in and works in a homogenized
community, they might not have the skills to understand the cultural practices
of others outside their circle of exposure. Kudos to everyone
involved for handling this potentially explosive subject with respect and
understanding. This exposure should go a long way in helping others avoid
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."When you stop listening, you stop learning. This doesn't even have to
be about religion. Hypothetically, the boy could have had a medical condition
that required an ointment be applied to his forehead and she would have made him
wipe it off. Regarding the teacher's claim that it just
didn't look like a cross, it doesn't have to. In many countries it is
common to just have the ashes sprinkled on your head.Bottom line,
why did she just ignore her students well articulated explanation? It seems that
she also needs to learn how to listen if you buy her story now. She still
doesn't seem to even acknowledge the fact that she blew off the
student's explanation. If she can't acknowledge that, what has she
Sadly, there is isolation of many born and raised in Utah. They never get out,
they don't have many friends outside of their LDS circles.My
point, this was done in ignorance. But, perhaps she should have reached out to
the office before making the child remove the cross.
Parents contacting teachers when something is out of the norm? Catholics have
been getting ashes in the US before it became a country? There are 300,000
Catholics in Utah. A public school comprises kids from many faiths. If she were
a 20 something teacher fresh out of BYU I could understand the mistake. I am
pleased she said she was sorry and the boy forgave her. But this notion that the
teacher was wronged cause the parent had not warned her that the kid would have
ashes I can’t understand.
I had to read two articles from two newspapers, but I think I have unpacked this
Astroturf event.It was reported that the press conference was called
by Sen. Weiler. It was a PR event. Someone organized the speakers, set up the
podium, sent out the press release, created the human wallpaper (kids, placards,
parents...), and ran the show.Not exactly the work of a fourth grade
teacher. The message sent, from the mouth of Weiler: "this is
something that happens when people aren't necessarily exposed to other
cultures, other religions. It's not always, necessarily,
mean-spirited."My translation: Here in Utah we may be clueless,
but we aren't cruel.Should she be fired? Well, not for the
classroom faux pas. But she was asked not to talk to the press about it. That
tells me she wanted to rationalize, not repent. She hasn't learned a
thing.As for Sen. Weiler's stunt, I'm thinking that if we
can just get to the Great Hall in Emerald City and approach the Wizard,
he'll solve all our problems. Institutional arrogance at its worst.
Our fine educators deal with an amazing array of things every day. Cut them
some slack. Looks like a very fine teacher and we need them. Most important
lesson of the year might be about how we deal with those who make a mistake. We
all appreciate those who accept an apology and allow us to move forward.
Rlynn makes a valid point: there are huge discrepancies between what the teacher
is saying now, versus what the young man said earlier regarding the story. The
stories are basically mutually exclusive, so which one is it? Seems to me, that
the teacher was not being sensitive, didn't listen to him, and removed what
was a sacred symbol from the boy without due cause. I'm a
teacher, and we all make mistakes, but I believe that owning up to those
mistakes should be part of the process. Somebody is not telling the truth here,
and I'd like to know who. I do not believe that this teacher should be
fired for she did, but it shouldn't have happened, and I sincerely hope
that she and all other Utahn educators have learned a valuable lesson from this,
I know that I have.
I was raised in Utah and lived in the Washington, D.C. area and south of there
for five years. I worked among people of all faiths. I'm well-educated
and worked in the U.S. Capitol for congressional leadership. I have never seen
ashes on a forehead before! A sister-in-law is an avid Catholic. I've
never known her to do this. My brother-in-law is Presbyterian. I have no idea
if they do anything similar. I don't expect them to know what I do in my
religion. But we RESPECT each other, ask questions, learn from each other, and
regard each other feelings.This teacher did nothing wrong. It was
out of the "norm" for her, Shamrock. She apologized. Move on, people!
It was everyone else who threw her under the bus. Lighten up!
I made the same mistake of not recognizing the ash cross years ago in the
military. I resolved to be more cognizant of the religious holidays of others,
and I've enjoyed the social interaction learning more about the faith and
traditions of friends. I would like to add that when I was a kid
and came to Utah in late July I thought the whole place was crazy celebrating
the 24th of July as I didn't know what made that day special. I
didn't understand how the 4th and the 24th could get mixed up... Allowances should be made for people who are kind but unaware...
In my first year of teaching, I was helping the sophomores with their assembly.
The kids in one vocal act all wore T-shirts. It wasn't until after the
assembly I found out that one girl was so upset she was crying. Her father was
the leader of a small conservative Christian church that believed that girls
shouldn't wear T-shirt because they were immodest. If I had known I would
have changed something in this student production. Misunderstandings like this
are an inevitable part of life. But some insecure people seem to be looking for
a reason to take offense at the slightest thing and harshly judge.
Thanks Senator, for trying to make some lemon aid here. I just have
one request of the school district--please name the date you provided diversity
training that included Ash Wednesday and a copy of the notice that Ash
Wednesday was coming up so teachers could be fore-warned. Most of my life has
been spent in Utah, but I lived in California my teen years and had a Catholic
girlfriend most of that time, and I have never heard of that tradition until
this year. If there's a good side to this, its that all Utah teachers-and
a lot of other people-- now know!
So I am confused. First the teacher states that: "the boy came into her
classroom "with what appeared to be dirt on his forehead. I gave him a wet
wipe to clean it off. I had no idea it was a religious symbol. When I learned it
was a sacred symbol for Ash Wednesday, I immediately apologized to the boy and
family," she said.But the student states: "He explained to
her that it was Ash Wednesday, it was from church, and he was not allowed to
take it off." And I believe in last Monday's article he stated the he
was forced to take the ashes off. So, which story is true? If after
the student explained that it was Ash Wednesday and the teacher still made
remove the ashes, she is at fault. I would also ask how good of a Teacher is
she? I was teacher and raised in Utah, I knew what Ash Wednsday is.
Over a third of the nation belongs to denominations that have Ash Wednesday
services (of course, not all of them go to those but still) with this so
generally one considers it to be common knowledge. Of course that
kind of assumption can be kind of flawed considering half the state is LDS and
there's all sorts of things many non-members wouldn't know.@GrainofSalt"by assuming that the offending teacher or others who
make innocent mistakes are somehow ignorant"The only way it can
be an innocent mistake is if the teacher is ignorant of the situation.
I’m so relieved that the truth is being heard. Hopefully Deseret news will
follow-up if the school district’s representative retracts their comment.
It’s bad enough that the teacher wasn’t allowed to defend herself
before this went national but for the school board to not get to the bottom of
it before throwing her under the bus is very sad.
@Oh Please wrote: "How about the parents contact the teacher ahead of time
and let the teacher know that something out of the norm for the area and the
child will be taking place."I assume the teacher's
intentions were benign, but the fact is, ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday
are not "out of the norm" for millions and millions of Christians. Just
as a teacher in Chicago should be sensitive to Mormon or Muslim beliefs, a
teacher in Utah should be sensitive to the beliefs of students who aren't
LDS. Assuming that Mormon traditions are the "norm" and that other
traditions are "outside the norm" is a good example of why it can
sometimes be frustrating to be a non-Mormon in Utah.
Weiler said "this is something that happens when people aren't
necessarily exposed to other cultures, other religions. It's not always,
necessarily, mean spirited."Senator Weiler should apologize for
making this very insensitive comment. He is taking on a morally superior tone by
assuming that the offending teacher or others who make innocent mistakes are
somehow ignorant and therefore insensitive. Ironically his statement is
insensitive. In this case this teacher made an honest mistake that
has been blown way out of proportion.
Diversity training for the teachers? Sounds good. Let's see, every
teacher will have to memorize all the nuances of every religion and cult of a
child/family that might enter into that district's boundaries? Since the
Wasatch is a melting pot of cultures, that could be quite a task. How about the parents contact the teacher ahead of time and let the teacher
know that something out of the norm for the area and the child will be taking
place.This is, as previously mentioned, media overreach. An honest
mistake. Just let it alone and quit beating the teacher and school up over
Honest mistake.Another example of the media over reacting.